Football fans, do me a favor and take a quick second to snap your finger…
And just like that, Jimmy Graham vanished. The New Orleans Saints traded away their All-Pro tight end to the Seattle Seahawks in exchange for center Max Unger and the No. 31 overall pick. Just days following that shocking transaction, WR Kenny Stills was sent to the Miami Dolphins. What does this mean? It means it’s time to move on and watch Brandin Cooks emerge as the top threat on offense in the Crescent City.
Cooks, the Saints’ first-round selection a year ago was off to an electric start to his rookie campaign. The former Oregon State Beavers standout impressed as the the anticipated fourth option in the passing game behind Graham, Stills and Marques Colston, becoming the team’s leading receiver through ten games. He recorded 53 receptions for 550 yards and three touchdowns.
He also added another seven carries for 73 yards, finding the end zone once. However, Brandin Cooks would miss the final five contests of the season after suffering a thumb and wrist injury in Week 11 versus the Cincinnati Bengals that landed him on injured reserve.
His best game came in Week 8 against the Green Bay Packers, totaling six catches for 94 yards and a touchdown, which included a 50-yard bomb into the end zone. He also added that one rushing score on the season that evening.
With the departure of Graham and Stills, and considerable decline in Colston’s health and production, Cooks will emerge as the go-to man down on the bayou. I’m sure Drew Brees will have no problem with that. Aside from Reggie Bush, the All-Pro arm hasn’t been blessed yet since arriving to the Big Easy with the athleticism Brandin Cooks brings to the offense. In fact, this is without question the best all-around athlete New Orleans has seen since the organization parted ways with Bush.
While Cooks lacks the prototypical height for an NFL wide receiver at 5-foot-10, his outstanding speed, versatility and hands certainly make up for it. He also has great balance and concentration, but importantly for Sean Payton‘s team, Brandin Cooks has his head on straight. He’s a good kid with excellent character qualities that will likely land him as a fan favorite for years to come. He wants to succeed, he wants to be great, he wants to earn his city a world title.
He’s the future of the New Orleans Saints at the wide receiver position, or at least that’s what is expected. He was the Biletnikoff Award (nation’s top WR) winner at Oregon State in 2013, as well as a Consensus All-American and a First-team All-Pac 12 selection in 2013.
Cooks is the perfect fit for Coach Payton’s playbook. He can be utilized in so many different ways, which was without question made clear last season. The 21-year-old has Pro Bowl written all over him, and that would certainly be no surprise with Drew Brees tossing the rock to him — that’s why his protection is critical. Give Brees enough time to make his reads and find Cooks, because he’ll likely be open.
Now, with the starting job in his hands, he’ll look to shine in his second year. There will be no sophomore slump — he’s the real deal. Brandin Cooks is destined for greatness in 2015.
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